Burrus: APWU Tentative Contract Analysis

My disagreements with the tentative agreement have been chronicled on this site and repeated on occasion by others. The source of my criticisms have been centered on the severe reduction of pay for new employees without providing them a voice; the significant increase in non-career employees who will be fully integrated in the work force and regressive modification of the 40 hour work week. While others have the right to disagree with my conclusions, these are in contributable facts.

I also find serious fault with the wording of the document. A labor contract is a permanent recording of the agreement governing wages, benefits, hours and conditions of employment and its construction should be exact in its composition. It will be reviewed and interpreted for years to come by individuals and legal entities that have no independent knowledge of postal affairs so it is improper to record shop floor phrases or imprecise wording in the final draft of the national agreement. In the achievement of this objective, this document fails miserably.

Following are some examples of the inadequacies that do not meet the standards of labor contract construction:

Page 8 (4.) Although the agreement does not specificallyprovide the employment status of contract employees placed in the bargaining unit it does make specific reference to their exclusion from the PSE cap limitations. Does the modification of Article 12 mean that “all” of the PSEs, including the former contract employees “to the fullest extent possible” must be separated before excessing career employees from a Section, Tour or Installation?

How will this obligation to separate PSE’s work if the work week of career employees in a traditional 40 hour position is changed to fewer hours and the employee does not bid and the residual vacancy is opted by a PSE? Since no career employee can be involuntarily placed in a non-traditional assignment can management apply Article 12 in the reassignment of the employee before separating the PSE who succeeded in being awarded the assignment?

What happens to a vacancy that is posted in the Section because it has been converted to non-traditional and the career employee does not want the changed assignment and does not bid? Is the residual posted installation wide and what happens to the unassigned employee?

Page 12 – What does “beginning 2 years from the effective date of this agreement” mean and what significance is its omission from Function 4, Maintenance and MVS? Are the PSE caps deferred for a period of 2 years in Function1, and if so what are the rules during that period?

Paragraph 4. – Provides that PSEs who work the window may work in relief of “employees” holding duty assignments. Through the residual postings, PSE may hold duty assignments on the window so such employees would be included as those “who work the window” and those who hold “duty assignments.”

Page 19 – Since the January 2012 COLA is not paid until the “second full pay period after release of the January 2013 Index” what happens to the January 2013 COLA? Do employees get 2 COLAs in January 2013 or is the January 2013 COLA lost? If it is lost, that means that no COLA will be paid for January 2011, July 2011, January 2013 and July 2013 (total of 4). The January and July 2013 COLAs will actually be controlled by the 2012 indexes, or do employees get 4 COLAs in 2013?

Page 20- How doyou apply the clear language of Section 7 that lists the wage increases for PSE Employees “in addition to” the Article 9.1 increases? The phrase “in addition to” is clearly defined as a separate increase. Applying the language verbatim will mean that PSEs will receive “twice” the increase of career employees.

Page 34 – (Section 2) In that the agreement provides that the leave regulations will “remain in effect for the life of the agreement” and “the Employer shall continue the current leave earning level” how do you make the adjustments necessary for the non-traditional schedules? Does management have the right to make a unilateral change pursuant to Article 19? Or does management have the right to do nothing?

Page 41 – Second Paragraph- I trust that the 4th line includes a “typo” that has been identified. It presently reads “present installation, the date….”

Page 80 – Section 6 Are contract employees who are put in the APWU bargaining unit included as “non-career” for the purpose of union orientation?

Page 166 – (7) Obama Health Reform legislation requires the USPS in 2014 to contribute to employees’ health care insurance. Is this fund intended to supplement this legal obligation or is it intended that all USPS contributions required by law will be laundered through this fund and how much is the USPS’ obligation per individual? If management will be required by law to provide health insurance and the employer’s payment comes from the Fund, how much is left assuming management maximizes its allocation of PSEs?

Page 167 – (f) What rules will apply to casual and transitional employees during the interim period prior to their elimination, and how will they be counted during the phase in period?

Page 174 – (F Paragraph 3) This paragraph does serious damage to the proper use of the English language.

Page 174 – (F Paragraph 4) What??? Does this mean that when the PSE has the annual service break that his/her assignment will be posted during the 5 day break and since the service is not continuous across breaks in service, the returning PSE has no seniority? Does anyone believe that Shared Services can post an assignment in 5 days?

Page 177 – Who invented the term “seep out” and where is it defined?

Page 177 – (2nd Paragraph) I guess we would write another entire contract listing what “we are not agreeing to.”

Page 177 – Operating Services will be placed in Article 1 Section 1, and Handbook EL-912. Which is it guys?

Page 178 – It would have been nice to have included the pay grade, career status and seniority rights of these returned employees. What if the “nearest postal installation” is an office with fewer than 50 APWU represented employee – installation and the call center has 500 employees? Would it be intended to merge the bid cluster?

Page 180 – (4)How does the Employer “provide” 800 administrative and technical jobs?” Webster defines ‘provide’ as to “furnish, supply/make ready etc.” None of them fit.

Page183 – (1) What does the term “if applicable” mean? If applicable to what? 2nd paragraph What is a designated installation and how does one write a paragraph that refers “to the following” and “above” in the same sentence?

Page 184 3)a. This is a new standard for English Composition one sentence 82 words; now that is ground breaking.

Page 185 – It is contradictory to agree to conduct an audit to determine “the amount of such work, that may be performed by a postmaster in these offices” and then agree on Page 186 how much work can be performed. Does the agreement permit postmasters to perform bargaining unit work or will the audit make that determination?

If I understand this correctly, management steals over one (1) million bargaining unit work hours in violation of previous contractual restrictions, reassigns thousands of clerks and the union agrees to legitimize for the first time in 40 years the right of supervisors and postmasters to perform our work. Where is the back pay for past violations? The agreement does not state that the permitted hours in the new contract will be applied retroactively.

Page 188 NTFT Duty Assignments. This breaks the previous record with an astounding 85 words in one sentence. Didn’t anybody comprehend sentence structure and limitations?

Page 188, 189 and 190 – This compilation of disparate issues does serious damage to the construction of the English language. It is titled “Non-Traditional Full-Time (NTFT)” duty assignments but proceeds to include a variety of subjects totally unrelated to the heading.

Page 191 – (3rd and 4th Paragraphs) Let’s see if I have this right. Management has the right to establish non-traditional duty assignments up to the caps, where they exist; decide the hours and days; permit the career employees to bid and the PSEs to opt, and if the Local union has a “concern” he/she after having the opportunity to review, comment, make suggestions and propose alternatives, can refer them to the appropriate Business Agent and any unresolved issues will be forwarded through the ADRP for appeal to arbitration. Local management has not made a written decision at the local level so what is there to arbitrate?

If one were to re-write this paragraph perhaps it would be: “management can do what they want” and if you don’t like it you can pound sand.

Page 193 – (Paragraph 5) Why not just say that management can revert a vacant assignment when “it is determined that they no longer need it to be withheld”. Put a PSE into the assignment for X years and then declare that there is an excess of career employees and revert the withheld assignment.

The more I read it the more frustrated I get, but I don’t have time to perform a more exhaustive review because I have to mow the lawn.

In union solidarity,
Bill Burrus

Burrus Journal

23 thoughts on “Burrus: APWU Tentative Contract Analysis

  1. William Burrus- Thank you for your analysis of the TA. It is quite clearly that those voting “Yes”, do not understand anything about unionism, solidarity, nor as it appears, an understanding of postal management thinking or practices. What a bunch of Prats! Thanks again Bill.

  2. Thank-you Mr. Burrus! When I first read the tentative agreement I KNEW that we were being screwed over. I for one will not vote to ratify this contract. Something in the water just isn’t right with it. I think we’ve been sold out to upper management.

  3. Please Mr. Fat Cat Union Boss go back to your mansion, your manicured lawn, and your wealthy neighbors. Your egalitarian public persona belies the lifestyle that you have lived. You have always been a “taker” and never a “giver.” Please just go away.

  4. Thank you Mr. Burrus for telling us the truth even when the “truth” isn’t popular. I for one appreciate your years of dedication to APWU and the fight for workers rights everywhere. I have read the contract and it is full of contradictions and “word play” that it is not even funny. It is insulting….to all APWU members to acccept a contract as damaging as this. Wake up APWU members and fight for your jobs. Stop rolling over and accepting whatever is dished out at us; this job is still worth fighting for. Before you condemn William Burrus take the time to READ!!!! Mr. Burrus has admitted he was willing and able to partake in contract negotiations and he was told his services was not needed. He was more than willing to assist in negotiating our current TA and his assistance was not valued by our current officers….SO STOP HATING!!! If you don’t like what he has to say then shut the h-ll up!!!!!!

  5. Thanks for the union and my president Gary Ford- Gadsden AL! I am so blessed to have a great union family. My boss hates me for protecting every minute of my future job. Please people if you see someone violating the contract please file a grievance. And thanks APWU for all that you do! Vote yes!!!!!

  6. Mr. Burrus, YOU ROCK! There is no doubt we could have gotten a better deal with you on board, and we DO understand you had to let go sooner or later. With all your years with the USPS and APWU president, your knowledge is abundant! This TA is vague and unpredictable I appreciate your input and will always follow the one with the most knowledge of the situation.

  7. For once I agree with Mr. Burrus. The devil is in the details and the details of a contract are not so much as what is being said, but how it is said. This monstrosity is sloppily written and any time they try to sell you something that depends on an audit or “study”, you are screwed.

  8. I hate to say it the postal service will be so broke in three years any contact will do get want matter because the good old GOP will cancel any gains we would have gotten from arbitration, if we got any. We have to face it in ten to fourteen years the postal service will be part of a museum. No one will be mailing anything. If the world is around your mail will be beamed to you. When we gave up our rights to be the only one to deliver packages our end was just starting. If you want to blame someone blame whomever gave that up. Be happy you have a middle class job for now. Oh ya watch out for those flying cars.

  9. I continually see people who take cheap shots at Burrus for not sticking around for yet another negotiation. This man gave his entire life to the APWU. He is in his 70’s. He gave over 50 years to the fight for better wages and working conditions.

    I wonder how many of the negative comments that are left here are left by employees who have played an active part in fighting for the rights of others.

    A contract is signed by both sides. Meaning both sides agreed to abide by the contract. Yet, the USPS throws money away all the time paying out settlements because some supervisor is either too stupid to know the contract, or too arrogant to care. As a Steward, its almost like stealing when we write greivances. Its just like the show Survivor. Outwit (ewasy enough to do) outplay (once again, its not a level playing feild), and outlast (well when the PO goes down, ther will be no winner)

    Bill Burrus, I hope you read these comments. You did one helluva job over the years and I for one appreciate it. I can only hope that the uneducated postal workers dont cast a YES vote out of ignorance.

  10. Please Mr. Burrus, get over yourself. With the money you took the APWU membership for, I find it hard to believe that you actually cut your own grass. You cut and run in a contract year. A caring President just wouldn’t have done that, so please don’t act so concerned now. Time to mow your lawn and fade into the sunset.

  11. We will lose so much with this contract. NO more full time jobs. Just a company of part time employees. They will cut bids to part time. You just watch them. You PTF’s that have been waiting for FULL time. FOR GET IT. You that vote yes on this well I will be able to say I told you so!!!!!

  12. Page 181 1a …and provided the work can be performed by maintenance craft employees at a cost equal to the cost of the contract service.

  13. I wish former President Burrus would spend more time mowing his lawn and less time taking petty and cheap shots at the efforts of our dedicated officers who chose to remain in their jobs and complete the extremely difficult task of crafting our tentative agreement in one of the worst negotiating environments in our union’s history.

    Change is always hard to accept, but change was inevitable in this round of negotiations. It’s ridiculous to pretend that a better deal could be obtained at the table, and a fantasy to assert that an arbitrator would ignore the Postal Service’s current financial plight and grant our every wish. The tentative agreement is bold, brilliant and exceptional in many ways. It paves the way for the Postal Service’s continued survival, along with the preservation of our jobs. I hope this is always our primary objective.

    Not even former President Bush has engaged in such public bashing of his successor. Can it be true that even Mr. Bush has more class that Mr. Burrus? So sad.

  14. APWU members please read the actual contract…NOT the Union’s summary. It’s so full of holes and generalities as to be shockingly imprecise. That’s not what contracts are about. Thank you Mr. Burris for speaking out. I’m sick that you weren’t around to get us through this. I’m sure we…those employed now and in the future…are about to get ground into paste.

  15. i also appreciate his thoughts this contract is no good and anyone who thinks it is in for a rude awakening it is not about the me`s its about us former, future and current workers alike there is a reason the postmaster general said it would save about 4 billion a year if passed
    here are the facts pse equal less wages per 20 percent cap not including new jobs from management at least five to ten percent that is not counted towards the 20 percent cap also 50 percent or half will become non tradional full time and there is way of know what jobs they will downgrade to thirty hours per work they will not make a 44 hour job they are trying to cut cost not increase our salary and the ones who will not take the 30 hour job will be excessed and how many plants in a two thousand mile radius will be excessing people who will not take a thirty hour job per week yes the 50 mile excessing can mutually agreed to expand by 50 miles or farther that what has been in the contract the last 2 or more contracts i am glad there is someone that is decent enough to still care about his ex members and give them the truth without his input you would never have said nothing

  16. Thankyou Mr. Burrus,

    You explained more of this contract than your intern Guffey ever did.

  17. I for one appreciate Mr. Burrus thoughts on the matter. Cindy like many others are thinking only about themselves. Please continue to exercise your right to speak freely. I wonder what Cindy position would have been if she was force to suffer a lost of 20 percentage of her salary while someone next to her was doing the same work but getting 20 percent more in salary than she was?

    Thanks Mr. Burrus

  18. Really Burass, you can shut your trap now. It is the job of the union to protect current members, not future ones. Many of us are tired of you whining about the wages of future hires, and now you want to bring more opinions to the table weeks after whining about it. You had your chance to be involved, but you chose to retire. Please just go away, you are no longer relevant!

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